LAFAYETTE -- A grace period allowing all massage practitioners to acquire state certification if they want to do business in Lafayette ends Monday, and police stress they will enforce compliance.
In May, the city adopted a law requiring all massage therapists and practitioners working in Lafayette be state certified with the California Massage Therapy Council. As part of that law, sole practitioners and business owners or operators must register every year with the police department. Masseuses not already state certified will have to undergo extensive background checks and pay a fee, among other requirements.
But because state certification can be a lengthy process, officials decided to give therapists and practitioners 120 days to become certified and conform with the city's new regulations. That period is now almost over.
"We're coming to a point of compliance, and it will be a point of compliance," said police Chief Eric Christensen.
A handful of therapists attended an informational meeting Friday at the Lafayette city offices, where Christensen detailed how his department will handle enforcement with methods including undercover operations, search warrants and inspections. Recent enforcement had resulted in the closure of three massage parlors -- Body & Sole, Classical Music Massage and Lalouch Massage -- the chief said, and police have also conducted traffic stops of clients that included registered sex offenders and child molesters, parolees and gang members.
"This is having an effect on our community far beyond that one transaction that's going on," Christensen said.
City Manager Steven Falk characterized Lafayette as a hub of personal services in the county and said the city welcomes personal service providers. But they must be legal.
Lafayette has been cracking down on massage parlors offering sexual activity following complaints from residents about the proliferation of shops in neighborhoods near downtown.